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Entries from August 2007

etiquette

Rb_0807 Rb_0807_2 Moon
Wine label design...in today's edition...and how you might help decide (or even design!) our vineyard's first "étiquette." Click here to check out what people are saying about these labels and add your own comments. Whatever you do, please cast your vote, below!

étiquette (ay-tee-ket) noun, feminine
  1. label; docket; price tag
  2. protocol, etiquette, formality

Le BONHEUR ou le malheur ne sont que des étiquettes que l'on met sur des réalités mouvantes, insaisissables. / HAPPINESS and misfortune are but labels that we put on changing and elusive realities. --Gilles Archambault
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Column
Jean-Marc has been working for weeks to create a wine label for his vintage debut--make that for his first vintage! When I saw the initial prototype (and the bright and hopeful look on my husband's face) I held my tongue, remembering the old adage "Si tu n'as rien de gentil à  dire, ne dis rien."*

All right. Give him this one, I reasoned. Next year, I reassured myself, we'd change labels! After all, the etiquettes* would change yearly--with each year a new work of art.... I already had several artists in mind: we might use my mom's "l'Homme Qui Crache" (The Spitting Man) or my Grandma Audrey's
"Cabanon dans les Vignes".* Then there's my daughter's "Hivebound Abeilles"* or my son's "Sarment Sous La Lune."* There. I'd thought up the next four labels! Not that I'd gotten around to a producing a prototype...as Jean-Marc had.

"Mais non, chérie*....the artwork is lovely but it won't be possible to use them all." Harrumph! My husband is remembering another adage (about a kind word turning away colère.)*  As for wrath, my face must have resembled The Spitting Man's for Jean-Marc quickly elaborated:

"Chérie...The étiquettes don't change with every harvest. The wine label, like the name, is a brand." Oh, branding. OK. I understand now. But, oh, with just one chance to get the label right...we will need all the help we can get! For this reason I am issuing the following statement or appel*...

                      *A CALL FOR HELP!*
Two ways that you, the reader, might help with the design of our wine label:
  1. by voting on the current prototypes (see poll, below)
  2. by submitting your own prototype (you design the wine label!)
     click this link for guidelines
    
In the meantime...back to the drawing board...yours.... and ours! My wish is to post reader "label art" so that all of us can review the possibilities. Then we can vote again on October 1st--when the entries will be posted online, side by side, along with the original prototypes. Please tell your grandmother, son,
friends, art class...anyone who might enjoy participating! In the meantime, don't forget to vote!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
References: Si tu n'as rien de gentil à  dire, ne dis rien = If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all; une étiquette (f) = label; Cabanon dans les Vignes = Cottage in the Vines; une abeille (f) = bee; Sarment Sous La Lune = Vine shoot Beneath the Moon; mais non, chérie = no, dear; la colère (f) = anger; un appel (m) = appeal

                     Your turn to vote! (Click on photo to enlarge)
Note: the first label was made by a graphic artist--the second and third were pasted together by Jean-Marc during a brainstorming session. Leave your comments (and read others' opinions here).

Rb_0807 Rb_0807_2 Moon

     Music for your muse!: The Very Best of Edith Piaf
     LA Vie En Rose: The Little Book of Joy

:: Audio File ::
Etiquette. Le bonheur ou le malheur ne sont que des étiquettes que l'on met sur des réalités mouvantes, insaisissables.
MP3 file: Download etiquette.mp3
Wave file: Download etiquette.wav
.
Expression:

  mettre une étiquette à  quelqu'un = to pigeonhole someone

Shop:
Rosetta Stone French - the award-winning method used by NASA and the Peace Corps
Vogue - French Edition
The Rough Guide To Paris Café Music
French With Michel Thomas: "The Fastest Way to Learn a Language"
Savon de Marseille/Marseille Soap with Pure Crushed Local Flowers

Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


sobriquet

Rouge_3
Our vineyard has a new name...more in today's story.

Check out "The Joy of Man's Desiring" a book by Jean Giono

sobriquet (so-bree-kay) noun, masculine
  nickname

            Le hasard est un sobriquet de la Providence.
         Chance is a nickname for Providence.
--Chamfort
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Column
When Jean-Marc asked if I had an idea for a name, I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head: "Rouge-Bleu!"*

"C'est parfait!"* said he.
"But...I wasn't serious! I mean...the name is taken!"
"It's perfect, chérie.* It is just what I was looking for! It's settled. We'll call the vineyard 'Rouge-Bleu'!"

Oh, I had my doubts. Once those passed, I had my druthers. After all, I could choose NOT to share the name!

Sharing...it is something I am still learning to do in this marriage: from those canettes* of beer back when we first met...to today's bathwater: "Don't throw it out!" Jean-Marc still protests. I realize that the French are conservationists, but most don't slosh through mud and grapes all day long. It's enough to clog the plumbing! We've since come to a compromise: I take my bath first....

In five years' time, that will surely be one story I will regret having told you. But I can be as bumbling now as I was twenty-five years ago, when I met the original Rouge-Bleu with whom I share this name...and this story.

This name-swapping took place over a well-stocked cosmetics counter where my best friend* (all but 15-years-old at the time) worked after school and on weekends. I used to visit her there at the mall while on my way to my own after school job (hostessing at Coco's diner).

My best friend, with strawberry blond hair to her waist, wore one of those department store frocks. Pinned to the lapel was a gold name tag on which her real name was engraved: "Susan". I might have called her "Suzette"... After all, she did represent a famous French company, this, as the youngest cosmetic clerk in Arizona.

There, at Paradise Valley Mall, we glammed up. "Rouge-Bleu!" Susan said, announcing the color while twisting open yet another tube of rouge à lèvres.* We were fifteen going on forty, best friends trying on wrinkle cream and red lipstick. Our skin was caked after so much preening and powdering. Like cake,
and on hearing the words "Rouge-Bleu," our colorful faces brightened as if lit by birthday candles.

"Rouge-Bleu!" We may not have known the correct pronunciation, but the words played on our painted lips like a premonition. The French words written on that tube of lipstick represented our very raison d'être*: to one day be European! From that moment on, we buried our given names and took up the Rouge-Bleu sobriquet, if only en privé.* We were no longer "Susan" or "Kristi" but united, not by fingers, pricked and bloody, but by the same sanguine color: Rouge-Bleu!

Now we are truly going on forty, no longer fifteen. We wear much less make-up, a little more wrinkle cream, and we're still sharing the same sobriquet. Rouge-Bleu eventually sold enough lipstick to move to Germany and back. The other Rouge-Bleu quit hostessing (hightailing it to France, first chance she
got).

As for the nickname "Rouge-Bleu," which stuck as the lipstick once had, I've decided to share it with Jean-Marc for use on his wine label. Make that "we" have decided: the decision was instant for Susan, who has never had a problem with giving, but has a natural "what's mine is yours" attitude. From the moment she heard the news, she expressed a brand new raison d'être: to share her time and energy by helping out with the first harvest. That's so like her.
.
PS: My best friend, like my husband, is a conservationist; difference is, she knows when to throw sharing out with the bathwater!

                                     *     *     *
This story is for Susan, the original Rouge-Bleu, for reminding me to give without hesitation--and as often as the chance arises.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
References: rouge-bleu = red-bleu, reddish blue; c'est parfait! = that's perfect; chérie (chéri) = dear; la canette (f) = small bottle, can, of beer; best friend's site; rouge à lèvres (m) = lipstick; la raison d'être = reason for being; en privé = in private

       The lipstick maker that taught me French.
       And while we're on the topic of cosmetics, my favorite face cream:
 
:: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and quote:
Le hasard est un sobriquet de la Providence.
MP3 file: Download sobriquet.mp3
Wave file: Download sobriquet.wav

Shop for:
language software
French music: Alain Souchon
French / Italian film: Il Postino with Philippe Noiret:
Nutella -- it's on our breakfast table daily!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


vaincre

Vaincre
Today's unrelated-to-the-story photo: Mussels conquering the western shores of France, in Brittany.

vaincre (vehn-kr) verb
  1. to defeat, to beat, to vanquish
  2. to overcome; to conquer

On ne peut vaincre sa destinée.
We cannot conquer destiny.
--Jean Racine
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Column
A stranger camped out in our driveway over the weekend. I had offered him the couch, but Jean-Marc insisted that the man, who went by "Vincent,"* would be fine in the fourgon.* Jean-Marc's brother, Jacques, who has been sleeping on the living room floor since June (when not putting up walls in our home), seconded that. "He has all he needs," my brother-in-law assured me, of the moonlighter who had agreed to plaster our walls.

Vincent, I learn, works non-stop, seven days a week. At night, he passes out in his van, the metal floor of which is as soft as a feather mattress when you're dead tired. Jacques says that Vincent is highly in demand being the best plasterer west of Saint Tropez (where the two met on a construction site. My brother-in-law was in charge of putting up plasterboard).

                                             *   *   *
On Saturday morning I looked out the kitchen window and noticed a sheet of gold covering the field of vines beyond. The sun was up and, it appeared, so was Vincent. I watched him fiddle with the garden hose. "Il fait sa toilette," he is grooming, my brother-in-law explained. Hadn't anyone told our poor guest that he was welcome to use the indoor shower?

"He isn't a guest," Jean-Marc corrected, putting the matter straight, adding that I was not to worry about meals, either. The previous night, while stirring a pot of plain pasta, I had wished for something more to offer our non-guest. But after weeks of juggling menus and feeding live-in laborers lunch and dinner, I was out of ideas and food.

Back at the kitchen window, or rather--hidden behind a corner of it, I looked out to the front yard. There, beneath the mulberry tree, I noticed a plastic bucket full of water. Shirtless, with a rag and a scrap of soap, the moonlighter washed his face, running the cloth across his neck to work out any kinks that a corrugated metal floor might put there after a long night. He scrubbed any traces of plaster from his cuticles. "It gets into everything!" he had said the night before. That's when I had noticed his droopy eyes, the bags beneath them added years to his would-be youthful visage:* still, he couldn't be more than thirty-five years old.

"Le pauvre!* He works too hard and he doesn't have much!" I had noticed a sack of sliced bread on the front seat of his van. That must have been his breakfast! I finished making the coffee and went to get the sucrier* only to learn that we were out of sugar cubes.

                                        *     *     *
It's Monday morning now and I am making another pot of coffee. I smile into the sugar bowl, which is no longer empty thanks to an unlikely "loaner" who has since moved on. I pick out the plaster among the sweet crystals and think about "le pauvre". I had thought he didn't have much; in the end it was I who was lacking.

......................................................................................................................
References: Vincent = the name means "vainqueur" (conqueror); le fourgon (m) = van; le visage (m) = face; le (la) pauvre = poor guy (gal); le sucrier (m) = sugar bowl

     La Perruche sugar cubes (stock up and never run out!)
     Songs in French for Children  -- check out the reviews, here.
     Today's Random Book Recommendation
.
:: Audio File ::

Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce today's word & quote:
Vaincre. On ne peut vaincre sa destinée.
MP3: Download vaincre.mp3
Wave file: Download vaincre.wav
.
Shopping:

Pure, moisturizing Savon de Marseille soaps with the regional flowers of lavender, orange, rose and verbena.
French honey from SW France

Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


creuset

Creuset
Herbs-n-spices for a melting pot...

For those of us who studied French a few years ago, or many, but still get stuck when it comes to speaking: "Tune Up Your French" by Natalie Schorr.

un creuset (kreuh-zay) noun, masculine
  1. a crucible, well, hearth
  2. a difficult "épreuve" or "test" (ordeal)
  3. a melting pot

Lorsque les gens choisissent de s'assimiler, on peut parler de...creuset...s'ils sont contraints de le faire on parle de...autocuiseur. When people choose to assimilate, we can talk about a...melting pot...if they are forced to do so, we talk about a...pressure cooker....

--From the book "La négociation interculturelle chez les filles franco-maghrébines" by Sandrine Gaymard
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Column
Of all the creuset* definitions* that I have combed through, in English and in French, this one struck me the most:

"A place or set of circumstances where people or things are subjected to forces that test them and often make them change."

The idea of change or "emotional growth" inherent in such testing circumstances motivates me and I find my mood lifting. That is, until I read this next definition:

"a severe trial or ordeal"...

OK. Admit it. Life isn't always hunky-dory here in a fractured French farmhouse where we are still tripping over cords, shimmying past scaffolding, and trying to ignore walls and floors that forever have holes in them as if chilly fall is NOT just around the corner. Thankfully, I am not here today to talk about trials and tribulations. Let's talk about tomatoes!

Mr. Delhome's tomatoes, of course, which don't sweat like squash or cry like courgettes* (in other words: no need to sprinkle salt over them before sopping up the excess liquid with a paper towel, all the better for frying them). No, all Mr. Delhome's tomatoes need are thunder and lightning. (Well, maybe not
tonnerre,* but they do need fire!)

"So," I say to monsieur, verifying that I've understood his recipe for tomates provençales.* "I'm to put those tomatoes in a casserole, having halved them, add a filet* of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and persil*... then throw them into the oven?"
Monsieur looks dubious.
"I mean...I'm to PUT them into the oven...?"
Monsieur maintains a doubtful expression.
"Rather, I'll put them... on the stovetop? N'est-ce pas?"

After a good long Provençale pause, the corners of monsieur's mouth lift. That mischievous grin is back.
"Nah!" he answers. His eyes begin to search the scrap yard that is our future front lawn.

"You take a few of those stones, there..." he begins. Next, he looks over to the pile of scrap wood. "Un peu de bois..."* Then, seeing the pile of recyclable metal, he adds "...un lit de fer..."*

I gather I am to lay the iron "grill" across a circle of stones.... I get what he's hinting at. I've seen the fire pit that he's dug or "creusé" (kreuh-zay) on his own property. While the idea of cooking over a feu* appeals to me, I'm in no mood to rough it; not even with a recipe. We may live on a construction site
but, this side of summer and a swirl of fall in the air, I'll be damned if we're going to start camping out!

                               *   *   *

A suggestion from Monsieur Delhome: when the tomatoes are finished (some 40 minutes into baking) crack a few eggs into the piping hot Creuset (or similar type casserole), sizzle and serve. A little pinard,* according to monsieur, and the meal washes down nicely.

PS: Parmesan, chapelure,* and even herbes de Provence (in place of parsley) make good toppers for the tomatoes, too!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
References: le creuset = (see definitions, above); "...change" = definition (for "crucible") is from MSN Encarta dictionary; la courgette (f) = zucchini; le tonnerre (m) = thunder; la tomate (f) provençale = Provençale tomatoes (typical dish); un filet (m) = a dash; le persil (m) = parsley; un peu de bois (m) = a little wood; un lit (m) de fer = a bed of iron; le feu (m) = fire; le pinard (m) = cheap wine (plonk); la chapelure (f) = breadcrumbs

     Creuset--a great French casserole for tomates provençales
     Provence: The Beautiful Cookbook

:: Audio File :: Listen to French:
Creuset. Lorsque les gens choisissent de s'assimiler, on peut parler de...creuset...s'ils sont contraints de le faire on parle de...autocuiseur.
MP3 file: Download creuset.mp3
Wave file: Download creuset.wav

In French-themed products: Basil PISTOU sauce
For French fluency: French music! Listen to Zazie's albulm Rodeo
A money belt for traveling. Perfect size for your passport and currency.
A collection of the most popular Pre de Provence soaps, including lavender, honey almond, verbena, linden & sage

Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


dégorger

Courgette
Provencale produce waiting to "pleurer" or cry out their hearts via a swift sweat.

"FRENCH in 10 minutes a day" is a fun, dynamic and engaging way to begin your love affair with French." Check it out here.

dégorger (day-gor-zhay) verb
  to disgorge, to clear out
  to discharge; pour out, to surge (crowd of people)
  to clean, to scour

Eh bien, pleurez ! soyez triste ! Dégorgez votre coeur et dites moi, de temps à autre, comment vous allez. Well then, cry! Be sad! Pour out your heart and tell me, now and again, how you are. --From the book "Correspondance" by Gustave Flaubert
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A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Some French culinary advice for you today: Don't sweat it. Sweat the vegetables! I know this is what my mother-in-law would do. She knows everything about cooking and could separate an egg with her eyes closed. Make that one eye closed. Now imagine that very eye looking down the ridge of a great Gallic nose, or "pif". That is how my belle-mère* cooks: "Au pif" ("by the nose" or "by guesswork").

When our neighbor offered me that home-grown zucchini (as heavy as a magnum and about as big) he suggested I make a gratin de courgette.*

"Zucchini casserole"? I imagine the words coming out of a neatly painted mouth... Delivered as they were from our neighbor's chapped and wrinkled lips, the lines now erased after nine decades of wear, I couldn't help but wonder how a male of his generation knew anything about home economics. Not that a female from my own generation knows gazillions more about the subject. I made an emergency call to Marseilles.

"Allo?" my mother-in-law answered. I trusted she will be able to help. My belle-mère will stop whatever she is doing (whether that be watching her favorite show--Desperate Housewives--or taking her quotidian nap) to listen.

This desperate housewife's ear is now glued to the phone; on the table before me, a bill from France Telecom doubles as a scratch pad.
"Alors, chérie, il faut faire des rondelles..."* My belle-mère instructs me to divide up the zucchini into slices.
"N'oublie pas de les dégorger..." Don't forget to sweat the slices....
"...et les mettre dans un plat..." ...and to put them into a (baking) dish.
"...et faire des couches." ... and to make layers...

My belle-mère tells me that, between layers, I might add gruyère rapé,* chopped garlic, and a bit of grated muscade.* I forget the muscade and add the bits of ham leftover from yesterday's assiette de charcuterie.* There are a few day-old slices of tomato that need to be used; in they go.... I top each layer with a swirl of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and the herbs (sarriette,* thyme, and rosemary) that Aunt Marie-Françoise has collected near the village of Fuveau.

When the layers are quits with the edge of the casserole dish, I crack three eggs into a bowl, add a bit of water, more herbes de Provence,* salt, and pepper, and beat the mixture together before pouring it over the top. I flip the pouch of grated cheese over, shaking it across the dish, so as to leave no stone (or scrap) unturned.

I hesitate to use the gas oven as there are only two temperatures: high heat and low heat. The oven is on loan from my brother-in-law (who, in turn, has borrowed it from Uncle Yannick. My French family borrows appliances as one might borrow a cup of sugar; indeed, what is not bolted down is borrowable).

I decide to not worry about oven temperature and cook the courgettes "au pif." Not forty-five minutes later, I peer into Uncle Yannick's four* and see the golden croûte* of a gorgeously scented squash. My mother-in-law's final instructions come back to me as I pull the savory dish from the oven. I'll share them with you now, as I have her recipe:

Bon appétit!

.............................................................................................................
References: la belle-mère (f) = mother-in-law; la courgette (f) = zucchini; Alors, chérie, il faut faire des rondelles... = So then, dear, you must make slices...; le gruyère (m) rapé = grated cheese; la muscade (f) = nutmeg; l'assiette (f) de charcuterie = plate of assorted cold meats; la sarriette (f) = savory; les herbes (f) de Provence = mixed herbs from Provence; le four (m) = oven; la croûte (f) = crust; bon appétit! = enjoy!

     Clearance sale on Emile Henry oval gratins! Check it out here.
     Herbes de Provence in a neat olive wood grinder.
   
:: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word & quote:
Eh bien, pleurez ! soyez triste ! Dégorgez votre coeur et dites moi, de temps à autre, comment vous allez.
MP3 file: Download degorger.mp3
Wave file: Download degorger.wav

Shopping:
Improve your French: listen to French music: La Biographie de Luka Philipsen by Keren Ann
Cartes Postales: A Delightful Album for Postcards
La Perruche sugar cubes : made in France -- with a rich & perfumed taste with hints of honey/vanilla.Vogue - French Edition
Gluten free madeleines -- individually wrapped

Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


piane-piane

Biot_france
Enjoy life, piane-piane, as often as you can. (photo taken in Biot, France).

piane-piane (peeyan-peeyan) adverb
  gently, softly, slowly

--From the Norman dialect "pianopian". Perhaps from the Italian phrase "piano-piano". **Update: the word "plan-plan" ("laid-back"), though an adjective, may be the correct equivalent of "piano-piano"...

Les maçons désoeuvrés venaient par habitude tourner chaque jour autour des chantiers. Les mains dans les poches, chaussés de lourds sabots, ils arrivaient piane-piane... The unemployed masons had the habit of coming, each day, to hang around the work yards. Hands in the pockets, wearing heavy wooden clogs, they slowly arrived...

--from "Mémoires de la Société d'agriculture, commerce, sciences et arts" by Société d'agriculture, commerce, sciences et arts de la Marne
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Column
Imagine a vine-flanked country road beneath a sky full of clouds as fluffy as crème fouettée.* Now see a silver streak on the horizon, edging closer as our story unfolds. I recognize the car and, on closer look, that's Mr. Delhome behind the wheel. We could call him "le potier," but that would be incorrect. A potier is a potter--something Mr. Delhome is not, though he does putter, and occasionally toil, in his potager or "kitchen garden" (located across the street, beyond a field, and over the stream from his home--yet only ten meters from my own kitchen window).

But back to that silver streak, which is more like a smudge, for it would be an exaggeration to imply that Mr. Delhome drives fast. Neither face-paced or fast-tracked, his life might now be savored piane-piane,* like the slow-cooked vegetables from his garden.

When Mr. Delhome's car comes within a country block (or around a forty vine rows) of my own bagnole,* I send an excited appel de phare.* Monsieur responds by slowing his car and squinting his eyes. He soon comes to recognize "the woman from the kitchen window," who sometimes puts timidity aside to venture out and pick his venerable brain.

"I made the zucchini casserole!" I announce, rolling down my window.
(Monsieur looks confused.)
"...with the courgette* that you gave me the other day..."
"Oh!" he replies, brightening. "Would you like more zucchini?" With that, we each kill our car's motor, step out of our vehicles, and effectively block the one-lane country road.

Mr. Delhome flips the driver's seat forward and I see that there, in the back of his car near a dusty spare pneu,* are more newly picked vegetables.
"I was planning on feeding them to the chickens," he explains, "but they are getting fed up with the same ol' 'soup'. Here, you take them!"

The would-be fowl feed is transported from one car to the other, this to the extreme irritation of traffic, country traffic, that is (all of one car has had the misfortune of encountering the lazy loading zone). The sporty station wagon--beyond my back bumper, not far from where I am loading the chicken chow--is now honking impatiently.

"Qu'est-ce qu'il a, celui-là? What's his problem?" Mr. Delhome complains, only to poke his head back into his car and collect another zucchini or two. Mr. Delhome's nonchalance makes me nervous and I hope he will hurry and gather the produce so as not to keep the traffic waiting.

But Monsieur is neither in a hurry, nor affected by the impatient "traffic". As for the Hurried One, I suspect he needs a good home-cooked meal (to be scheduled into his fast-paced, fast-food life). Which brings me to my own hurries and worries--mostly imagined, though a daily struggle to overcome. The lesson is in those slow-cooked (and -constructed) zucchini casseroles that I've taken to putting together, piane-piane and like a prayer.

...............................................................................................................
References: la crème (f) fouettée = whipped cream; piane-piane = slowly; la bagnole (f) = car; un faire un appel (m) de phares = to flash one's headlights or high beams; la courgette (f) = zucchini; le pneu (m) = tire

....................................................
:: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and quote:
Piane-piane. Les maçons désoeuvrés venaient par habitude tourner chaque jour
autour des chantiers. Les mains dans les poches, chaussés de lourds sabots, ils arrivaient piane-piane...
MP3 file: Download piane-piane.mp3
Wave file: Download piane-piane.wav

Terms & expressions:
  allez-y piane-piane = go gently, "easy does it"

Shopping: check out these French-themed items
Cote Sud magazine (in French): "A superbly illustrated decoration magazine about the art of living a sumptuous life in the South of France."
Provence French Linen Water Spray: traditionally used to perfume sheets and a delicate way to add a scent to a room.
Emile Henry's Flame Top Tagine: perfect for brazing, heat conduction and for slow, natural cooking.
"Tune Up Your French"--the book includes tips on how to avoid taboos and common faux pas and is "the next best thing to a year abroad".
Moleskine City Notebook - Paris

Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
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"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


sol

Sol
Freshly turned earth feels so good under the hoofs.

"Tune Up Your French" by Natalie Schorr. "If you are among the many people who studied French in high school, college, or even beyond but still get stuck when it comes to actually speaking the language, this book is for you." (Publisher's note).

le sol (sol) noun, masculine
  ground; floor; flooring; soil, land

On ne peut pas poser les pieds sur le sol tant qu'on n'a pas touché le ciel.
You can't put your feet on the ground until you've touched the sky.
                                                           --Paul Auster
.

Column
Our ever-joyful mason, Michel, is back. You may remember him for his talent in scaling French walls, tiles under arm: he is French Speederman* minus all that suffocating spandex (a Speedo will suffice).

Now that Michel has tiled the roof, he will tackle terre cuite.* Hundreds of rectangular terracotta pavers (parfeuille) were discovered by our contractor who carefully pried them from beneath wooden floorboards and set them aside--but not before pointing out the date of fabrication: 1696.

Michel and I are standing next to the stacks of ancient tiles. I have an idea (make that a conviction) about how the tiles should be placed: vertically and not horizontally. That is, when someone is standing at the front door, about to step in, the tiles should be vertical, like the long open road before the soul-searching driver. We don't want horizontal crossroads. Tiles, placed in this forward fashion, give the illusion of continuity. Place them horizontally and the eye will catch on a constrictive pattern.

I share my conviction with Michel, who simply smiles and smoothes out the air before him, in a horizontal pattern. "Let's go and see," I say to Michel, hell-bent on setting the matter straight. Vertically straight.

Michel pauses to collect an armful of tiles and we head over to the new entrance. I am still lecturing as we arrive at the front door; only, my convictions seem to float painlessly above Michel's head.

Michel begins placing the armful of tiles across the cement floor. Every once in a while, mouth still running, I look down. Michel quietly takes up the tiles and then places them vertically. Like a baker kneading dough, the direction of his hands (and the tiles) changes, his goal being to stretch my imagination.

Once again Michel places the tiles vertically, then horizontally. Back and forth the tiles go until my mind begins to shift; with it, my mouth ceases to motor.

Dumbstruck, I study the current (vertical) placement and notice how the eye is carried off, as if by a rushing current. The pattern is drowned out completely. It is now clear to see that the eye needs something to behold... a horizon!

Eureka! The discovery comes to me as if by my own efforts (I suspect our monokinied mason intended it that way). As for Michel, he has remained persuasively silent throughout my conversion, reminding me that "Les actes parlent mieux que les mots".*

.........................................................................................................................
References: Speederman = (French pronunciation of Spiderman); la terre cuite (f) = terra-cotta; les actes parlent mieux que les mots = actions speak louder than words

:: Audio File ::
Listen to my daughter pronounce today's word and quote:
SOL. On ne peut poser les pieds sur le sol tant qu'on n'a pas touché le ciel.
Vave file: Download sol.wav
MP3 file: Download solmp3.mp3

Terms & Expressions:
  le sol natal = one's native soil
  le personnel au sol = ground staff
  cloué au sol = grounded (aircraft); rooted to the spot (person)
  les exercices au sol = floor exercises
  la clef de sol = treble clef (music)

Shopping:
"Wind, Sand and Stars" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Olives galore - Rustic French olive theme gift basket
French all natural Orange blossom syrup in decorative old fashioned bottle
Finish your meals as the French do, with a fragrant digestif: verbena tea.
Le Creuset Round French Oven -- for one pot meals including cassoulet.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


brouter

Aosta
The Aosta Valley (Italian Alps). See three adorable Italian brutes (brouters?) here.

brouter (broo-tay) verb
  1. to graze, browse (on grass)
  2. to chatter, jump, judder (brake, tool); to grab (brake)

Le buffle attaché n'aime pas le buffle qui broute.
The buffalo that is tied up doesn't like the buffalo that grazes.
                                               --Vietnamese Proverb
.

Column_2
Brouter.* There's that word again. Just how many times does Alphonse Daudet use it in his famous nouvelles?* Perhaps under a dozen...or over the same.

As for me, I have never used the French word "brouter" until just now, having been bitten by the bucolic bug that was one writer's muse (la vie campagnarde*) and is another's mode de vie.* Impatient to employ the verb, I look out my window in search of grazers. Que dalle.* Not a donkey or a goat in sight (Though I can hear the noisy braying of the former, there across the field, one farm over, behind a row of cypress trees).

While I have yet to witness any "brouters" in my own back yard (not counting our dog, Braise (brez), who has a tummy ache and fancies a grass goûter*) I saw plenty of cud-chewers in the Italian Alps last week, where I devoured Daudet's chroniques* along with uncustomary amounts of crème glacée* (might one "broute" Italian gelato?).

The subject of browsing brings us to grass--something that is decidedly greener in the Aosta Valley, or so it seems after leaving our dusty construction site-slash-home for a needed reprieve. There, in a quiet meadow, I watch the grass-licking cows (have you ever observed a grazing cow? Italian cows lick grass (as if to mimic the tourist-spectators who nurse gelato, en face*).

I finish my cone and bid arrivederci* to the grass-lickers. Time to leave the quiet valley for the Vaucluse, back to Provence (one of the few things I have in common with Daudet). Mr. Daudet, it seems, had the luxury of writing from a quiet moulin.* Tra-la-la! La belle vie!* No hungry, Speedo-sporting lodgers to feed, no laundry to hang, no construction cords to trip over, no sick dogs to
nurse. I am convinced that the grass was greener over there at Daudet's moulin where the writer turned out prose as one turns out a dirt-filled sock before tossing it into the washing machine. (Such is the défi*--or defeat!--of a woman writer: to marry word-wrangling and washing--no matter the century.)

Ciel!* Only I could be jealous of a 19th-century man of letters whose storytelling would be cut short by syphilis! A man who, it turns out, never had the luxury of writing from a quiet moulin but was clever enough to imagine so. For his agile mind nibbled the vast stores of memory--the very grist for his writing mill.

The good news is--the grist is endless and up for grabs to the one who will but graze the sometimes murky pastures of gray matter, the mind being the only place where the grass is truly greener. As for finding the time to do so... best to nibble a few minutes here and there.

................................................................................................................
References: brouter = to graze; la nouvelle (f) = short story (read Daudet's pastoral "nouvelles"); la vie (f) campagnarde = country life; le mode (m) de vie = lifestyle; que dalle = nothing at all; le goûter (m) = snack; la chronique (f) = chronicle; la crème (f) glacée = ice cream; en face = across (from them); arrivederci = (Italian) goodbye; le moulin (m) = mill; la belle vie (f) = the good life; le défi (m) = challenge; Ciel! = heavens!

:: Audio File ::
Listen to my daughter pronounce today's word & quote:
BROUTER. Le buffle attaché n'aime pas le buffle qui broute.

Wave file: Download brouter.wav
MP3 file: Download broutermp3.mp3

Related terms & Expressions:
  un broutard = a grass-fed calf
  le broutement = grazing

Shop -- and help support this word journal!
French all natural Coquelicot poppy / poppies syrup in decorative old fashioned bottle
Christophe Mae - 2007 Debut Release from the Young French Pop Singer.
Caudalie vine therapy products.
French Lavender Honey from Provence
Eau Dynamisante -the feel good French fragrance
SmartFrench CD-Rom -- unique method trains students to understand & speak French like natives

Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


aveugle

Aveugle
Gone fishing.


aveugle (a-vuhgl) noun, masculine/feminine

  : blind man, blind woman

adjective
   blind

Le monde est aveugle. Rares sont ceux qui voient.
The world is blind. Rare are those who see.
--Bouddha
.

Column
When your frigo* begins talking it's time for you to take a break. And so it is that this thrice-weekly letter will go on leave. The words will resume in under a fortnight (and after a fort* dose of R&R).

Entre temps,* and just to reassure you (and me) that I am not really "hearing things," I will partager* the nugget of "frigian" philosophy that our ice-box shared with me the other day when it offered up the following maxim:

     "Sur aveugle parole tombe."
     (Upon a blind man words fall.)


Boom. The French words hit me like hailstones (or sharp-edged magnets, according to the way the words revealed themselves: black on white, along a sticky, linear line, and over a metallic surface.)

I approached the fridge and stared at the door full of French word magnets, four of which had seemingly gathered themselves together, like foam above a windswept sea.

      "Sur aveugle parole tombe."

"Harrumph! Well THIS explains things!" thought I, remembering a certain stubborn someone in my immediate entourage. No use trying to talk sense into him--he can't even hear me. My words "fall" right off of him--he is blind to the truth!

My eyes remained glued to the magnetic maxim. How can one with blinders on "see the light" or "hear reason" or "be reasoned with" if you like (...or rather, if "I" like? For it IS all about me after all isn't it?).

This last inspiration is slow in coming, as is the tray of water destined to become one dozen ice cubes if you leave it be. (And if your husband hasn't returned an empty tray to the ice-box, as he does. But never mind that, it isn't about the ice cubes. It never is.)

Back to that last inspiration based on the pop psychology mantra: "It Isn't All About You!" OK, so it's not about me. It can be more about us and all of the things we have in common: l'espoir, la peur, la colère, l'orgueil; la tristesse, besoin. Le besoin d'amour.* And blindness. And deaf ears.

      "Sur aveugle parole tombe."

I look back at my freezer door behind which I was about to return a half-empty pint of Numb-Thyself-Noisette.* I run my fingers across the word magnets until the smooth surface and sage words bring my senses back to the here and now. No longer blinded by my emotions, I hear the music once again.

......................................................................................................................
References: le frigo (m) = fridge; fort = heavy; entre temps = meanwhile; partager = to share; l'espoir (m) = hope; la peur (f) = fear; la colère (f) = anger; l'orgueil (m) = pride; la tristesse (f) = sadness; le besoin (m) = need; le besoin (m) d'amour = the need for love; la noisette (f) = hazelnut

:: Audio Clip ::
Aveugle. Le monde est aveugle. Rares sont ceux qui voient.
Download aveugle.mp3
Download aveugle.wav

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Terms & Expressions:
  devenir aveugle = to go blind
  le point aveugle = blind spot
  faire quelque chose en aveugle = to do something blindly
  suivre quelqu'un en aveugle = to follow someone blindly
  l'amour est aveugle = love is blind

Shop -- and help support this word journal. Merci en avance!
Magnetic Poetry Kids' Magnetic French Kit : Flippable magnets that have print on both sides and stick on both sides.
Vogue - French Edition
Moleskine City Notebook - Paris
Gluten free madeleines -- individually wrapped

Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


esprit

Esprit
Our summer camp director (seated in chair, far left) sassy in the role of Dalida

Suggested reading: Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames.  "A rollicking entertainment for words lovers, Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames will delight readers with its Frenchified, phonetic high jinks." (text from the back cover)

esprit (es-pree) noun, masculine
  mind;  wit; spirit

Il y a une  dimension spirituelle dans chaque relation. Lorsque deux personnes se réunissent, c'est que l'esprit le veut ainsi.

There is a spiritual dimension in every relationship. When two people come together, it is because the spirit wanted it that way
. --African proverb
.

Column
I arrived to pick up my daughter at summer day camp where the director greeted me with a cheery "Hello!" After her warm English greeting and a bit of shoot-the-breeze papotage,* she pointed to my daughter's necklace with its cross pendant.

"Are you Protestant?" she inquired.

Here we went again with The Religious Affiliation Question. I'd gone over this before with the Catholic priest during premarital counseling.* If it was difficult to describe my spiritual orientation then, I must confess that, thirteen years later, I still haven't quite pinned it down.

"No, I'm not Protestant," I began.
"Catholic?" the director guessed.
"No, not really," I answered, regretfully, for if I were Catholic I would have "l'embarras du choix" or quite a selection of churches to go to given the number of églises catholiques* in France.
"But your children were baptized?"
Oh, dear! This is where things get complicated...
"Er, yes... in the Catholic church."
The director looked as confused as I felt.

"I'm not Methodist," I continued, by deduction. Perhaps Baptist? Was I Baptist after all? "Baptiste" is a popular French prénom* that signifies "plonger dans l'eau."* I myself was immersed in water, there in a desert church (on Central Avenue, to be exact) and not far from Katz Delicatessen where I would, years
later, nurse a bowl of matzo ball soup and wonder about how to convert to Judaism. My boyfriend, Howard, had explained to me that, should we marry and have children, our family would observe certain rituals. Words like "brit milah" and "bar mitzvah" were as foreign to me as the French language which,
unbeknownst to me, was just around destiny's corner...

"I am Muslim," The director offered encouragingly. Catapulted back to the present moment, I looked over at my daughter's cross and realized how differently life has turned out. No more visits to Katz's deli. I had lost my best friend when my relationship with Howard ended. But, just as it wasn't religion that separated us, I sensed that the same was true for the Muslim director and me.

I know little about the Muslim religion and when I admitted as much, the director's warm response included an invitation to a congrès* where villagers of all faiths come together in the spirit of breaking down barriers.

As I contemplate my religion, the vision of white robes swaying, hands clapping, and feet dancing takes me away... to Dorothy Love Coates & the Original Gospel Harmonettes...and to The Soul Stirrers and their thumb snapping tune "Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb." Tunes like "Oh Happy Day!" and Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" speak to me like no denomination can. "Amazing Grace," whether sung by Judy Collins or Ani Difranco, moves me like ministry.

I still hadn't answered the director's question. The time had come. I looked into her searching eyes with my own and, for the first time, understood the uncommon denomination that best described my faith: not Methodist or Mormon, not Born Again or Buddhist, not Catholic or Confucian.

"Do you know music?" I asked. "You know, 'le goh-spell'*..."
"Oui," the director said in anticipation.
I cleared my throat and my conscience at once when the following words tumbled out:

"I'm Gospel."

                                    *    *   *

The director looked at me with compassion in her eyes. We were no longer American, French, or North African, no longer Muslim or Christian. We were soul sisters.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
References: le papotage (m) = small talk; premarital counseling: don't miss the chapter "attendre" and learn about my wedding day and more, click here; une église (f) catholique = Catholic church; le prénom (m) = first name; plonger dans l'eau = to plunge into the water; un congrès (m) = conference: goh-spell = (French pronunciation for "gospel" music)

To advertise at French Word-A-Day, contact Kristin

.........................................................
:: Audio File ::
Listen to my son, Max, pronounce today's word & quote:
Esprit: Il y a une  dimension spirituelle dans chaque relation. Lorsque deux personnes se réunissent, c'est que l'esprit le veut ainsi.
Download esprit.mp3
Download esprit.wav

.................................................................
Shop -- and help support this word journal :-)
The Best of Dorothy Love Coates & the Original Gospel Harmonettes
French vine therapy for sensitive skin: Caudalie Gentle Cleanser
France magazine
Rosetta Stone French: Learn French at home

Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa